The funny thing about the eternal Beatles versus Rolling Stones debate is that it's taken musical anglophile leanings to a bizarre mainstream in which many (and we mean many) British musicians have taken an unnecessary back seat. British rock 'n' roll in its early days was noted for a keen appreciation of American blues, and some incredibly talented musicians paid homage from across the pond.
Unfortunately, the majority didn’t carry over as successfully as others in the British Invasion — but what is it about history being written by the victors? For exemplary displays of underappreciated guitar wizard, look no further than Dr. Feelgood’s Wilko Johnson or Procol Harum’s Robin Trower.
Trower, who came into prominence with that British psych/progressive and symphonic-rock outfit and recorded on the first five rather exquisite albums of their catalog was not the same guitarist who actually recorded their biggest and best-known single, “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” That distinction went to original guitarist Ray Royer, who stinted with the band in 1967. Trower would lend his licks and vocals from '67 through '71, when he would depart to pursue a solo career.
Now 71 years old, Trower has not completely severed ties with his former mates, recording the 1991 album The Prodigal Stranger and appearing on the orchestrated compilation album The Long Goodbye in '95. On his own, he's maintained a steady recording profile, reverting to blues rock with the power and wit of his prog days.
He’s also collaborated on numerous occasions with Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry and Cream’s Jack Bruce, never deviating too far from his core rhythm section of James Dewar (1942 – 2002) on bass and former Sly & the Family Stone drummer Bill Lordan. With his most recent album, Something’s About to Change, his 20th solo venture, Trower continues his six-decades-long affair with the guitar.
Wildly influential on early British stoner metal outfits and a few NWOBHM guitarists who paid attention, Trower is synonymous with power, and while he might be not be the household name he should be, he’s devoted a lifetime to revalidating the blues as the mathematical prime mover of rock 'n' roll, with an aplomb and grace no mop-top or walking zombie could’ve mustered this well for this long.
With Damon Fowler. 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, at Parker Playhouse, 707 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $37.50 to 57.50 plus fees via Ticketmaster. Call 954-522-5334, or visit parkerplayhouse.com.
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